|Neal and Peter fight in earnest . . . but not quite to the finish.|
“Clearly they’re lying to each other, making some kind of bargain that neither of them can keep.”
So says Mozzie to Elizabeth as they watch Peter and Neal shake hands.
The bargain is simple: they've just seen the Betamax tape that Ellen left for Neal. Only Peter, Neal, Mozzie and Elizabeth are in on the content. Neal wants to show the tape to Sam and only Sam. Peter wants to go through official channels. So they make a pact: neither of them will show the tape to anyone--not Sam, not Diana or Jones.
And that's what sets up the centerpiece of Gloves Off: a staged boxing match between Peter and Neal that becomes all too real as each man racks up suspicions against the other, and Neal--who arguably has the greater right to be angry--finally bursts.
Don't be distracted by the case of the week. It's just a contrived way of bringing us to this fight. As for the Betamax tape--well, it gave us our MacGuffin for the season: Ellen's locket. That locket holds a key which will reveal all the evidence Ellen collected trying to prove Neal's father innocent.
Meanwhile, this episode gave us a better notion that Neal's father is alive, if unaccounted for. And those who believe Sam is Neal's father may have found more evidence: Sam seems to have some awfully fond memories of Neal as a little scamp--not to mention Neal wearing the police captain's hat.
The ending of Gloves Off contains powerful moments between Peter and Neal, such as Neal's decision to throw the fight as planned despite his anger with Peter. But Neal is still furious, and with some justice-- although Mozzie's words seem to come back to haunt both men. Neither has put much trust in each other throughout the episode, and their misunderstandings could have been avoided if they had opened up to each other.
Ultimately, Neal cut Peter off from his personal life. Even though I know they are not, in fact, done with each other, Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay were so convincing that I felt my gut churn.
But this episode leaves us with the same conundrum we've been exploring for several episodes now: is the continued distrust between Peter and Neal believable when we look at their overall relationship? It's believable on one level, I think, because Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay are so good at selling both that distrust and the love between these guys. But should Peter and Neal be past that distrust by now?
You have two ways to answer, Collars! Tell us your views in light of this episode in the comments--and answer the poll on the sidebar!